Beetroot and feta, could there be a more amazing combo?
I mean besides feta and another type of cheese, it’s pretty high up there with flavor profiles made in gastronomic heaven. Beetroot is earthy and slightly sweet and pairs so well with the creamy, salty feta. Throw in some sweet, tangy onions and a pastry crunch and I’ll have a foodgasm right here and now. So when I opened my fridge post-holiday-season-public-holidays to find beetroot and feta and not much else I took it as sign from the God of that aforementioned heaven to put them to good use.
Pastry is one of those things I don’t eat very often, particularly commercially-made pastry, because in terms of nutritional benefits it doesn’t carry much bang for its buck. I don’t believe in deprivation but I do try to make everything I eat as nutritious as possible so I have replaced all the highly-refined white flour with wholemeal and consider it absolutely fine to eat on occasion, especially when filled with nutritious ingredients and served with a side salad. It’s a pastry recipe I got from a French chef and has yet to fail me, so feel free to use it for all your savoury shortcrust needs.
I've also replaced cream with greek yoghurt - this significantly reduces the fat content and increases the protein while still making a rich, creamy egg mixture. I've also replaced brown sugar with coconut sugar, a low GI sugar that is less refined but if you don't have any on hand you can still use regular brown sugar. It's a tablespoon spread amongst six people, let's not lose our cool.
You can serve this quiche hot or warm (but never cold, the French chef said so…), matched beautifully with some roasted vegetables or a simple side salad - mine is pictures here with a mix of baby leaves, pistachio, avocado and pomegranate. It’s great for brunch, lunch or a light dinner and is one of those vegetarian dishes that can keep a carnivore happy. It serves six but with every bite my inner fat kid told me I could eat the whole thing. I think I'll make another one just to see if she's right.
Beetroot are an excellent source of folic acid and a very good source of fibre, manganese and potassium. They also contain nitrates that help widen blood vessels and lower blood pressure, so can be useful for people suffering from cardiovascular disease. Both the leaves and root can be eaten - the leaves have a bitter taste whereas the round root is sweet. Typically a rich purple colour, beetroot can also be white or golden. Due to its high sugar content, beetroot is delicious eaten raw but is more typically cooked or pickled.
Beetroot and Feta Tart
250g wholemeal flour
1 egg yolk
50ml cold water
250g packet cooked baby beetroot
1 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried thyme
Zest of one lemon
1 tbsp coconut sugar
150g reduced fat feta
1/2 cup greek yoghurt
1) Place flour, egg yolk , butter, cold water and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Pulse until the whole mixture comes together, then wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2) Roughly chop or grate the beetroot. Heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add sliced onions. Sauté the onions until they are softened (approx. 10 minutes) then add beetroot, vinegar, thyme, lemon zest and coconut sugar. Cook until the sauce is reduced and set aside to cool.
3) Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celcius. Roll out pastry between two sheets of baking paper. Lower pastry into a 25cm fluted plan dish with a removable base and press into all the edges. Fold the pastry down to create a double-thickness side crust. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork and place back in the fridge or freezer for 30 minutes. (I'll admit I didn't do this and it still worked out fine, it just reduces the risk of the pastry shrinking if it's super cold when it goes into the oven)
4) Line pastry with baking paper filled with baking beads or rice. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove beads, reduce the oven to 180 and bake for another 5 minutes or until light golden.
5) Spread beetroot and onion mixture over base, then scatter chunks of feta over top. Whisk eggs, yoghurt and freshly cracked black pepper and pour evenly over tart. Bake for 35 minutes or until set.
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